To all the strong women I have in my corner, I am more than grateful & thankful for all the love you guys have shown me over the past year. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to share this without your encouragement & support.
Finding the courage to stand up for yourself and take back control of your life takes a lot of guts for someone like me who was in a relationship that stripped me away from my self-worth & self-respect. No one wants to admit that there are serious problems going on in your relationship when you first get married, especially when society expects you to always portray your life to be picture perfect when you are in the public eye.
The first time I was physically mistreated by my spouse, I was in shock. I couldn’t wrap my head around what just happened…Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me? Of course I forgave him & assumed it would never happen again. I just thought he had let his emotions get the best of him, he loves me and he’s sorry. I was deeply hurt that he could even be capable of this behavior towards me, I couldn’t understand how the man I was so in love with, the FATHER of my child, the man I married just a few months ago could show such aggression towards me… I simply could not wrap my head around it, it tore me apart. As much as I tried to pretend it never happened, I noticed myself avoiding making him angry in anyway in fear of it happening again. I saw a darkness in him I’ve never seen or experienced in him or anyone else. Slowly but surely I realized the man I grew to love so much was becoming more and more of a stranger to me everyday that went by.
Emotional/verbal abuse started way before I even realized, eventually it started to be an everyday thing. Being blamed for just about anything that went wrong, name calling, intimidating me with personal force, manipulating me to think I was the problem, destroying my personal things, threatening me to “send” me & our son home to my parents as if I was privileged to be living in our home. Basically, I felt like I was nothing, a nobody & I was nothing without him, & I couldn’t do anything without him. After he would calm down from his angry spells, I’d always get the most sincere apologies, making me believe how sorry he was & he’s working on bettering himself. One of his favorite excuses was that he was “young” & he’s still learning how to live right, he basically raised himself, he didn’t have nurturing parents like I did & he didn’t know how to love the way I did. But, somehow he could ALWAYS find a way to make me feel like it happened because of me, or because I wasn’t listening to him. It was ALWAYS my fault – You don’t realize it, but its a sick mind game that you get sucked into – All your source of happiness somehow is controlled by that one person, depending on how they decide to treat you on a daily basis. Feeling the need of affirmation from him became the main source of how I felt happiness. Always trying to please him to show him I was good enough, strong enough, worthy enough… it consumed me & before I realized it, I was so far gone from the person I used to be.
When I first met him, everything was perfect. Too perfect, I guess some would say. I was 20 years old, he was my first real boyfriend. I was raised in a very sheltered and loving home, every little girl’s dream is to find her soulmate and live happily ever after. I was head over heels for him and he was head over heels for me. He treated me like a queen, so respectful, such a gentleman. He loved my family, everyone loved him. Everything seemed to click perfectly. I knew he was the one, every bone in my body knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Its tragic really, looking back I think about my 20 year old self and my heart still breaks for her. I had no idea how much pain and heartache this man was going to put me through.
Along with being cheated on with so many different women, I lost all self confidence within myself. I never felt good enough to keep him happy at home, emotionally & sexually. He would complain to me that our sex life “sucked” because I was so tired all the time, FROM TAKING CARE OF OUR INFANT SON, ALL BY MYSELF. Or how I was not experienced enough, he used to tell me he’d wish I would have been with more partners before him so I knew what I was doing. I was 22 years old at the time, & we’ve been married for about 6 months. My husband was the 2nd man I’ve ever been with, I always thought that would be something for him to be proud of… but in this case he made it seem to be an inconvenience to his needs. All I would think about was how could I change myself to make him see that I was good enough, it’s a poisonous feeling, & as much as I knew deep down that what I was feeling & how I was being treated wasn’t okay, I’d convince myself that it would get better, he loves me, just give it time – & that became a never ending pep talk I’d have with myself more than I’d like to admit.
Soon enough depression started to kick in & I completely lost focus of life. All I thought about was what can I do to change myself if I’m the problem? What was wrong with me? I used to be everything he wanted, what changed? I knew I was doing everything I needed to do at home, I was a good mother, a faithful & loyal wife… I didn’t know what else he was looking for.. I was miserable. I prayed A LOT about our marriage & for him, tried getting advice from family. Marriage is hard & I just assumed that this was normal for an athlete as his age to go through & eventually we’d get passed it. So I did my best to stick it out through these hard times in hopes of us getting better in our marriage.
As time went on abusive behavior happened more often in arguments(more so when he was under the influence) & the verbal/emotional abuse grew to new levels. Friends would express their concerns with me but I would assure them that I was okay, he lost his temper & wasn’t himself. Everyday began to be a struggle to fake the convincing smile of a happy wife I grew accustomed to. When friends or family asked how I was or how “we” were doing, it became more difficult for me to look them in the eyes and not break down in tears. I started to distance myself from family & close friends from home, being isolated was much easier than having to put up a front to everyone, I felt guilty but I was already so numb from everything I’ve been going through, not communicating with my friends and family was the least of my problems. what would I even say anyway? What would I even talk to them about? My whole life revolved around him.
Our relationship came to a point where there were days he’d come home from work and he wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence, which was so much more hurtful to me than being cussed out or yelled at. When I would try speaking to him, I’d have to repeat myself several times for him to even acknowledge that I was even talking, he’d give me short responses, showing no interest in conversation. I’d be waiting all day to for a text back, or a phone call, while doing his laundry, errands, cooking, cleaning and caring for our son. I remember crying at his side basically begging my husband to talk to me, asking him to tell me what I could do to make things better between us, or even calmly trying to explain to him how the way he was treating me made me feel. When all I wanted was for him hear me out, his begging wife, he would yell and curse at me telling me to leave him alone. Leaving me emotionally distressed. Uncountable nights I spent crying myself to sleep, praying to God to show me a sign that would help me figure out what I should do. I felt broken and alone. I didn’t know what else I could possibly do, all I knew is that I couldn’t live like this for much longer. Any action of empathy or sympathy he showed in the past were completely gone. I was to the point where I didn’t even know why I was even there, I had no purpose for him. I was nothing.
At this point, the only thing holding me together was my son. He was my responsibility, he needed me to be okay, & mentally stable to care for him. Thankfully I had my best friend there to help me care for him when times got even harder. I was able to hire her as a “nanny” to have her around for support. I honestly don’t know what would have become of me if I didn’t have her to lean on during some of the hardest times. There were days when I would ask God what I did to deserve this, I was at my very lowest of lows.
April 2017, he betrayed me once again, even though I wasn’t surprised by this, I was holding onto hope that it wouldn’t happen again, he blamed his behavior to me on being stressed about his job & the expectations he held on his shoulders. Which I always understood, his job could be very stressful at times and I always tried to put myself in his shoes to understand where he would be coming from. Feeling as bad about myself as I already did, on top of finding out about him cheating on me again, put me into a rage to finally just leave, enough is enough, I couldn’t bare to sit in our “home” any longer and fall deeper and deeper into depression. I prayed for strength & for courage to leave. My mother and my best friend were there to help me. I thank God for them everyday that I had them there for support because I know for a fact if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have been strong enough to do it alone.
After coming home, I can’t express in words the relief I felt. Removing myself from that toxic environment was like a breath of fresh air. I realized anything he had to “offer” wasn’t worth risking my own peace of mind, my health, my happiness, or my son’s happiness & wellbeing. Keep in mind when I say “offer” I don’t mean materialistic. I mean what I thought was a family, what I thought was love & a companion in life. I remember him saying to me after I left, ” I have all of this to offer you (talking about his wealth & his lifestyle) and you’d rather just walk away? It makes no sense, you must be losing your mind. You’ll never find anyone that will love you more than me, & you’ll regret this.” I didn’t let it show, but I was worried he would be right. I did my best to not let him get in my head, I knew he was just trying to scare me back to him.
When it began to set in for him that I was really serious about not wanting this marriage anymore, he just about lost his mind. It came in waves of sincere apologies, to lashing out when I would stand my ground and not fall for his empty promises about changing & being a better husband and father. This went on for about 3 weeks. His close friends from our home town kept tabs on me and reported back to him about everything I did, I was still living and walking on eggshells everywhere I went. About a month after leaving, I returned for a visit so my son could see his father, also in hopes that maybe, just maybe I’d see a change in my husband. But, as I expected our visit was a nightmare, I swore to myself it would be the last time he’d lay his hands on me & it would be that last time I’d let my son be a witness to it. A week after flying home, I finally made the call and took legal action to start our separation.
For me, this was a HUGE STEP, he was the father of my child, my husband, someone who was once the love of my life…
The way I was treated and the way he made me feel about myself, tore me down to nothing. I was so proud of myself for not being afraid anymore, I was free to make my own choices and I was free to live for MYSELF. I was taking back my life. It took months for night terrors to stop, to not have panic attacks 3 times a week, to look in the mirror and not feel worthless. I think the worse part of our separation was learning how to live without him, trying to find myself in the middle of the chaos, I was drowning in pain for months. I was mourning our marriage, the man I thought he was, our family… It was the hardest time of my life. By the grace of God I survived.
Outside looking in, others may and probably will have a lot of negative things to say for sharing my story but after what I’ve experienced, I’m not easily intimidated anymore. I’m giving myself a voice. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, you should not be afraid or ashamed to speak out about any type of abuse regardless who it will offend. You should be able to stand up for yourself & you should NEVER allow anyone to make you feel like you are wrong for doing so. It is not okay for anyone, whoever they may be or whatever title they may have in society to hurt anyone, in any shape or form. I hope my story empowers and inspires other women to stand up for themselves who are going through any type of domestic abuse.
If you are reading this and you can relate, please know & never forget how loved you are. God loves you more than anyone & can give you freedom, peace & purpose. I am happier than I have been in years, I’ve created a life for myself that is peaceful and full of amazing people who love and encourage me everyday. My son is 3 now, he is the sweetest babe & thriving in every aspect of life. I never would have thought in just a little over a year I’d be where I’m at today. There were plenty of times when I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel but I kept fighting & continued to pray to God for guidance and healing despite the doubts & worries I had, I knew God would get me through it. God’s grace not only helped me find peace, but it helped me find a way to forgive and let go of all the bitterness and hurt in my heart. As cliche as it sounds, I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, what I went through molded me into the woman and mother I am today, a woman and mother who I am very happy to be.
“You deserve to be in spaces and relationships that make you happy; that feed your soul and help you grow. You are worthy of connections that are loving, nourishing and genuine. Before you settle for anything less than, remind yourself that the places you visit and people you journey with through life should make you feel safe, loved and enough”